20 Things I Learned from RWNZ 2013: Part 1

The RWNZ 2013 conference is over but the memories will be with us all for many months to come. So I thought I’d share a few things I learned from this year’s fabulous conference. And I think I’m gonna have to do this in two parts: one specifically for writers and authors, and another post just for fun.

First up, here’s the fun stuff:

1. If you can arrange it so you’re hypnotized at a stage show the night before you leave for a conference, Do It! It’s an awesome experience (I promise!) and you might even end up being able to dance like Michael Jackson.


Plus, it’s a real conversation-starter. (Ask me how I know this!) But…

2. A warning: the next day you’ll be so relaxed about everything you might need someone to prompt you to have a shower, change out of your pjs, and finish packing on the day you’re due to fly out. Which means…

3. That same someone should probably escort you to the airport and make sure you do actually check in your baggage. Not to mention board the plane. Because nothing fazes you and you’re so relaxed you’re practically horizontal. (Again, ask me how I know this *g*)

4. It’s a really really brilliant idea to hold a romance writers conference at the same hotel your national rugby team happen to be staying at… on the same weekend they’re playing their arch-rivals for the Bledisloe Cup. Man-candy, much? Hmmm… sports-themed romances anyone?


5. Those introverted writer-friends who don’t get out much? They will be transformed into giggling, barely coherent schoolgirls at the sight of an All Black in full kit. Or an AB in his training kit. Or an AB in casual-wear such as shorts, tee and jandals. Or an AB wearing only a towel… who answers the door to what you thought was your room except it turned out you’d gotten off the lift at the wrong floor. (It wasn’t me have the brain-fade moment, but man, this is one time I kinda wish it had been. I mean, face-to-face with a bare-chested Dan Carter? Uh…. What was I saying again?)


6. There’s nothing to match the experience of sharing your lift with buff sportsmen wearing short and t-shirts… and then, after they get out on their floor, bonding over a bout of squealing and giggling, and clutching each other to ward off weak knees and hot flushes.

7. Speaking of buff men with omigod hot bodies and to-die-for abs our national rugby team; there’s nothing hotter than watching kind, generous, patient young sportsmen sign autographs and rugby balls for starstruck kids…

8. …not to mention they’re really really good sports about being hit up for photos and autographs, and chased across the mezzanine floor or stalked in the lobby by star-struck women waving pens and pink Post It notes. (Again, not me. But hugely entertaining *g*)

9. Superstars authors are very forgiving of brain-fade moments… like when you’re introduced to Allison Brennan by a conference committee member, and you don’t click who she is until after you’ve managed a vague “Hi” and wandered off to find a seat… and when you realize what you’ve done, you’re so mortified you rush back to apologize and tender your barely coherent excuses… and end up having a relaxed, friendly conversation, as though you hadn’t just come across like the the biggest dumb-ass ever. (Yep, that one was me. I blame the hypnotist.)

10. Superstar authors and editors are just all-over lovely generous kind people!  This is no lie:

~Shirley Jump let me take a photo of her gorgeous red shoes.

~Allison Brennan gave me a list of books that her daughter loved to bits (our daughters are both around the same age and both love reading horrors and dark stuff).

~Megan Crane and her DH spotted me sitting by myself in the hotel restaurant early Saturday morning and invited me to share their table for breakfast.

~Sheila Hodgson saved my precious Strictly Single contest first place certificate from being incinerated by a candle during the awards dinner, after a waiter whipped away the menu the certificate was propped up against.

11. It’s pretty darned humbling talking to superstar authors and editors and guests, and listening to them talk about our beautiful country. We truly are blessed to live in New Zealand.

12. The Intercontinental Wellington staff are wonderful. The food is fabulous. And the hotel has The Best Guest Welcome Gift Ever: rubber ducks and fancy chocolates.


13. One tip: when you pre-book your hotel room, insist on a room that isn’t near the lifts. Because even if you do remember to take your earplugs, despite the heavenly pillows and the OMG soooo comfortable bed, you’ll still be woken by those drunken guests who can’t seem to keep their voices down when they arrive back at their hotel rooms at some ungodly hour of the morning. (Not RWNZ conference attendees of course — we know how to whisper and be souls of discretion!)

14. Check the straps and buckles on your stilettos before you pack them. Mine need fixing. I broke one of my carefully cultivated long fingernails getting the darn strap through the teeny tiny buckle. Waaaaah!

15. Do bring props if you’re presenting a workshop. The cowboy hat DH insisted I take to match the Wild West theme he’d used when he prettied up my PowerPoint presentation went down a treat. And it was a great nerve-calmer seeing people grin as they walked into the workshop room.

16. No matter how often you practice your workshop to ensure you won’t run over time, you will run over time. Because time really does fly when you’re having fun.

17. Apparently I CAN have a half-way decent photo taken when there’s a camera pointed my way. Usually I smile… and close my eyes just as the shutter snaps the shot. Meaning I look half-cut — cut in this case means “drunk” if you need a translation. All I need to remember is to make like an owl. Or a round-eyed bush-baby. Whatever works. (Feels really really weird, and you’ll be sure you look like an ax murderer, but ignore that sensation. Take it from someone who’s suffered a decade of shocking, wince-worthy conference photos, the owl-eyes thing works  *g*)

18. Lift weights before you attend a romance writers conference. You’ll need all your strength to heft your luggage once you’ve packed all those books you’ve acquired over the weekend and can’t bear to leave behind.

19. You’ll be exhausted and happy and inspired (and did I mention exhausted?) by the time the conference winds up. You’ll also be determined to go on a diet because of all the wonderful food you couldn’t resist eating. And you wouldn’t have it any other way.

20. And finally, romance writers are the most supportive, friendly, generous people in the world. Roll on RWNZ 2014!

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7 Responses to “20 Things I Learned from RWNZ 2013: Part 1”

  1. Shar says:

    Loved the wrap up and the pics! Great job Maree – and kudos to hubby for his hat idea! :)

  2. Jo Fereday says:

    I learnt that you are a good friend to have when there’s only one chocolate muffin left and it’s within your reach!

  3. Sara Hantz says:

    I am so envious at all the fun you had!!!

  4. Kate Pearce says:

    I think I would’ve forgotten all about the conference and spent a lot of time following ruby players instead. I can’t help it-I grew up in a Welsh household… LOL Great post, sounds like you had a blast!